In 1776, soon after the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, the leaders of the war got together to write a letter to the King of England. They wanted to explain why they were fighting to be their own country, independent of England. This is what they had to say:
The Declaration of Independence (in easier words)
Sometimes one group of people decide to split off from another group, and to become an independent country, as the laws of Nature and of God say that they can. But when this happens, if they want other people to respect them, they should explain why they are splitting off.
We think these things are obviously true:
That all men are created equal
That all men have rights given to them by God
That among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
So whenever any government is getting in the way of these rights, people have the right to change it or get rid of it, and to make a new government, in whatever way seems most likely to make them safe and happy. People should not change their government without a good reason, so people usually suffer as long as they can under the government they have, rather than change it. But when there have been a lot of problems for a long time, it is their right and their duty to throw off that government, and to set up a better government.
We here in America have suffered for a very long time, and now we should change our government. The King of England has done many bad things to us – here is a list:
He won't let us pass laws we need for everyone's good.
Even when we do pass laws, he won't sign them so they will go into effect.
He tried to force men to give up the right to make laws.
He calls men together to make laws at the most inconvenient times in the most inconvenient places, so they won't be able to go and discuss the new laws.
He won't let new settlers come to America, and he won't let the settlers take over new land from the Native Americans.
He won't let us choose our own judges, and instead he chooses them all himself, so they are all on his side.
He sends lots of new government officials that we don't want, and he makes us pay for them.
He sends lots of English soldiers here when there isn't even a war, and makes us let them live in our own houses.
He tells us these soldiers can do whatever they want and don't have to obey the